One of the key issues for any start-up small business is the outlay in supplying the new office with the essential tools, equipment, furniture and consumables. While the initial costs of office equipment, furniture and basic stocks of consumables may represent a considerable expense for a new business, it’s worth bearing in mind that the initial set-up represents costs which are, to a large extent, a one-off. While there’s clearly a trade-off between ensuring that the standard of equipment is sufficiently high to meet your needs and the expense of procuring high quality kit, there are, nonetheless, ways in which the emerging business can cut the cost inherent in business start-up.
It’s inconceivable now that any office could function without a high quality IT system, coupled with access to internet and e-mail. For many businesses, the internet represents their shop window, their access to customers as well as the administrative hub which keeps the whole organisation alive. While it makes sense to ensure that the IT budget is sufficient to provide a system which meets the organisation’s present needs, it’s also important to ensure that the system has sufficient capacity to cope with further growth, or can expand as the business grows. Flexibility may be important, too. If your staff are working outside the office for extended periods, for example, it may be wise to consider using docking lap-tops or notepads rather than desktop machines to give greater flexibility.
Other big expenditure items include printers, copiers and fax machines. For smaller offices which expect lighter equipment usage, it may be possible to consider a combined machine capable of fulfilling the three separate functions. It may also be possible to look at the possibility of leasing such essential office machinery, especially given that lease agreements often come with a maintenance agreement as standard.
Looking further ahead, you may want to consider specific items of machinery which, though representing a high initial capital cost, will pay for themselves relatively quickly. Items such as specialist digital label printers, for example, can save a considerable annual amount on outsourced label printing costs. Keeping it in-house also gives a much greater degree of flexibility in terms of marketing and design of labels and packaging materials, not to mention ownership of cost and quality control.
While it’s possible to find second hand suppliers of IT and larger machinery, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is not necessarily the best course of action in the longer term. The disruption which can be caused by a problem with such important items of the office inventory shouldn’t be underestimated and, while the initial savings may be attractive, it could cost you in the long term.
It’s important, both for your staff and your clients and other visitors, to make the office a welcoming and comfortable place. Setting the tone of the office can yield considerable dividends in terms of productivity and first impressions for clients. It is possible here, though, to look at the possibility of high quality second hand kit. Tatty cast-offs clearly won’t do, but there are many specialist suppliers which can offer desks, chairs and reception equipment in almost as-new condition and for a fraction of the price of ex-showroom kit. This also applies to smaller items of equipment such as staplers, hole punches etc. These items are simple and robust and, unlike key items of equipment such as computers, can safely be purchased as pre-owned.
There are plenty of office suppliers around with very little to distinguish one from another except the price and the quality of service. Shopping around can yield surprising difference in the cost of office supplies, with prices and special deals changing all the time. It’s therefore worth keeping an eye on the office supply catalogues and resisting the temptation towards inertia and sticking with one single supplier.
Of course, there are many other considerations when it comes to cost savings – staff, energy and premises costs are important issues to consider. A helpful article can be found at the guardian. Given that around 70% of start-up business fail in the first year, keeping a tight hold on costs from the outset is clearly of vital importance.
About the Author
Having worked on the sales team at QuickLabel systems for several years, Paul Davies has had a great deal of contact with small businesses in a wide range of industries, so he is well aware of the importance of keeping costs down.
At home, he enjoys cooking and experimenting with different ingredients, though he confesses that not all the results are successful! His wife, though, thinks otherwise and is now trying to persuade him to concentrate on low-calorie